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Munroe Bergdorf graciously accepts Baroness Nicholson’s apology while schooling her on ‘casual’ racism and transphobia

Lily Wakefield July 1, 2020
Baroness Nicholson will not be investigated for Munroe Bergdorf comments

Baroness Nicholson (left) was accused of bullying Munroe Bergdorf. (Roger Harris/Getty)

Model and trans activist Munroe Bergdorf has kindly accepted Baroness Nicholson’s apology for sharing racist and transphobic content about her, while at the same time schooling her on why racism and transphobia is never “casual”.

Nicholson misgendered Bergdorf and called her a “weird creature” on Twitter in the week of June 22. She also retweeted a number of memes about the model, describing by Bergdorf as “transphobic”, including one that featured a racist slur.

In a June 27 statement on Twitter, Nicholson refuted claims that she is “transphobic, homophobic and racist”, and added: “I expressed myself casually, and in a manner which suggests that I do not support the rights of the LGBQ+ community, to and about Munroe Bergdorf.

Bergdorf said she was “pleased” that Nicholson had apologised, but did not accept her claim that the comments were “casual”.

The letter explained to Baroness Nicholson exactly why transphobia is never ‘casual’.

On Wednesday, 1 July, Munroe Bergdorf shared an open letter to Baroness Nicholson on Twitter.

She wrote: “‘Casual’ is a term I have come to know only too well as a woman of colour. ‘Casual racism’, for instance, is not casual for those who suffer it.

“‘Casual sexism’ is not casual for those who experience it. Casual homophobia and antisemitism would rightly not be treated by you, your followers, the press, politicians or wider British society as a mere moment of carelessness.

“Therefore, though I echo your call for conciliation, I’m afraid I find it difficult to believe that there was anything ‘casual’ about the transphobic themes present in your tweets regarding my identity as a trans woman of colour.”

Bergdorf also said that she questioned the sincerity of Nicholson’s apology, considering that in the hours that followed it she posted several more anti-trans tweets, including a “crazy alert” meme in response to calls for improved trans healthcare and a call for the Twitter account of Graham Linehan to be reinstated.

She continued: “I worry that your activity in the last few hours speaks to the truth behind your apology.

“That you are more concerned with your own crumbling reputation as complaints gather and grow by your name than you are for any need to reconcile our considerable differences.”

Munroe Bergdorf agreed to meet the life peer for lunch, but denied that the experience would be ‘fun’.

In the wake of accusations of transphobia and racism over her tweets, Baroness Nicholson appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week and invited Munroe Bergdorf to lunch, adding that it would be “fun” to meet with her in person.

In her letter, Bergdorf wrote that she would be willing to have an in-person conversation, if the Baroness would first “apologise unreservedly to all trans people and their families on Twitter who have been caused great pain by a number of your tweets”.

She said: “I am yet to receive any direct correspondence befitting such a sensitive invitation… Baroness, as the mixed-race trans daughter of a working class family who has been subjected to a stream of racist and transphobic abuse following your tweets, I cannot claim to find the prospect of meeting with you ‘fun’.

“While this poisonous conversation around trans lives may constitute an amusement to those who are in a position to pit their considerable wealth, influence and privilege against a minority, for people like me, it is a frightening and extremely painful onslaught not only on our characters but on also on the very core of who we are as people.”

But, she added: “I do not believe in holding grudges and I myself have learned that comments we make in the past should not be considered a permanent stain on our characters, so long as we make an effort to grow, listen and learn.”

On June 24, the Booker Prize dropped Nicholson as its honorary vice president amid ongoing controversy over her actions towards Bergdorf, as well as her views on trans people and same-sex marriage.

The controversial life peer, who co-founded children’s charity Lumos with anti-trans author JK Rowling, was reported to the House of Lords for bullying over her behaviour towards Bergdorf.

The Lords standards commissioner later said Nicholson’s tweets were “outside [her] power to investigate“.

More: baroness nicholson, booker prize, Homophobia, house of lords, life peer, Memes, model, munroe bergdorf, racism, trans activist, transphobia

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